MOORLACH UPDATE — OC Jam Session — August 17, 2013

Here’s one more reminder about tonight and tomorrow. The San Diego Freeway will be closed for 20 hours. Please plan accordingly. The LA Times came up with a clever headline in their piece below.

O.C. braces for a jam session

But officials hope a 20-hour closure of part of the 405 will be as uneventful as L.A.’s two Carmageddons.

Map shows the lanes of the 405 Freeway, in red, that will be closed starting at 9 p.m. Saturday and recommended detours.

(Sources: ESRI, OCTA. Graphic by Paul Duginski /August 10, 2013)

By Paloma Esquivel

Residents of Orange County and surrounding areas are girding for a 20-hour closure of a stretch of the 405 Freeway that starts at 9 p.m. Saturday.

Call it the Bridge Bash, the Orange Jam or just a pain. A four-mile stretch of the southbound 405 will be closed between the 605 and 22 freeways, probably until 5 p.m. Sunday. The northbound side will be closed at Valley View Street. Officials warned drivers to stay away, if possible.

"If you don’t need to be in the area, steer clear," said Ted Nguyen, a spokesman for the Orange County Transportation Authority.

The closure will allow workers to demolish a bridge as part of a $277-million project to link carpool lanes between the 405, 22 and 605 freeways.

The affected section of the 405 is one of the busiest stretches of road in the country, with more than 300,000 vehicles passing through on an average summer weekend day. Beachgoers, truck drivers, sports fans and many others will have to contend with detours and delays during the closure. Various summer beach events, concerts and a Saturday-night Galaxy game at the StubHub Center in Carson could add to the numbers on the road.

"The public just needs to realize there are alternatives. If you’re a local, you know how to get around," said Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach. "If you’re up in L.A. and you’re going to San Diego just stay on the 5 or … just be creative."

"Hopefully, we go through this just like Carmageddon," he continued, referring to the summer weekend closures of a portion of the 405 in Los Angeles County in 2011 and ’12. "It got so much media attention that by the time it rolled around, no one complained."

The area affected by the closure has a few things in its favor to mitigate potential traffic disasters, including such options as the 5 and 91 freeways. Those who choose to brave the 405 will have a few options for detours: Southbound motorists can use Katella and Westminster avenues. Northbound motorists will have to exit at Valley View Street, but can get back on the freeway using the westbound 22, which merges with the northbound 405.

Transportation officials have been referring to the closure as the Bridge Bash, but the Orange County Register, unsatisfied with the moniker, held a naming contest. Suggestions included Orangeageddon, Carzilla and Clogwork Orange. Orange Jam was the winner.

The demolition of the 700-foot bridge, which connected the southbound 405 to the eastbound 22 before a new bridge opened in July, will create about 3,600 tons of concrete debris, officials said. Much of the closure will be spent clearing the rubble.

"We’ve had about 10 months of careful planning," Nguyen said. "Our plan is to have the debris cleaned off of the 405, recycled, clear, and then we will do the necessary precautions to make sure the freeway is safe to reopen. The plan is to have it reopen by 5 p.m. on Sunday."

"There’s always a possibility that it could be earlier — we’re always hopeful that’s the case. But realistically, we’re planning on having the freeway open at 5."

paloma.esquivel

FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS

August 17

2008

Tony Saavedra of the OC Register provided a serious turf battle of years past in “O.C. law enforcement fighting over DNA lab – D.A., sheriff’s crime lab director slug it out over who should operate facility that probes low-level crimes.” It was a very thorough investigative piece, but I’m only providing the concluding paragraphs. My solution to a number of issues facing the Sheriff-Coroner Department at that time was to merge the DNA labs, the Coroner function, and the jail health care responsibilities under a Chief Medical Examiner subunit. It was not a new layer of government, but a reorganization of current functions to make the necessary alterations in areas that were in need of improvement.

In August 2006, [District Attorney Tony] Rackauckas hired a private lab, Serological Research Institute, to analyze DNA samples taken from thefts, burglaries and other low-level crimes for a pilot project in Anaheim and Santa Ana.

Why didn’t he use the sheriff’s lab? "I don’t trust them," Rackauckas said.

But he quickly hit a snag – private labs do not have access to the state and federal DNA database, which is crucial for comparison purposes. Rackauckas needed to find a lab that was affiliated with a law enforcement organization to input the DNA samples into the database.

He found a San Diego Police analyst who privately agreed to input the DNA samples – until [Orange County Sheriff Coroner Forensic Science Services Director Dr. Dean] Gialamas telephoned his boss.

Mike Grubb, San Diego Police lab manager, said he was notified by Gialamas that one of his analysts was inputting samples for Rackauckas. "Dean went out of his way to say, ‘I will not try to tell you to do it or not to do it.’ I know he was trying to be very correct,” said Grubb.

But Grubb pulled the plug. "I want us focused on the San Diego backlog and not doing favors for any other county."

Rackauckas spent six months spinning his wheels, sitting on DNA samples that could not be compared in the database, while he looked for an adequately accredited lab that would work with him.

Meanwhile, a Santa Ana thief who left a DNA-laden cigarette at one burgled home and saliva inside a stolen car in January 2007 didn’t get identified until July because Rackauckas couldn’t get the samples into the state and federal database.

"I guarantee you within that period (the suspect) was doing other crimes," Rackauckas said.

Kern County finally came to the rescue, putting Orange County’s samples into the state and federal database. With his project back on track, Rackauckas spent about $400,000 to have 784 DNA samples analyzed, of which 92 were entered into the database, resulting in 52 hits.

Gialamas counters that the Orange County crime lab has a faster turnaround time than neighboring counties (30 days for serious crimes) and a lower backlog, 1,800. In fact, the Orange County lab was recently honored by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors-LAB group.

As the two sides square off, Orange County supervisors are getting frustrated.

"We’re hoping we can get some cooperative spirit going between the sheriff and the D.A. But if it can’t happen, I’m glad to work with my fellow board members to create a whole separate (crime lab) with a medical examiner," said board Chairman John Moorlach.

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